Dreamed, designed, and created at our small batch distortery™ in Columbia, South Carolina.

FAQ: Météore

February 2, 2017

FAQ: Météore

What is the current draw of this pedal?
The Météore measures 60ma of current draw. We recommend isolated power slots with at least 100ma of current available, or using a One-Spot or other power supply. Because of that substantial current draw, we do not recommend using 9V battery power except in emergency situations, or in a noisy studio setting where you might need to completely isolate the pedal from any other electrical power sources for a track. (It’s rare, but it happens).

We’ve seen issues with some power supplies or taps rated for 100ma with Météore…which leads me to suspect either they aren’t really 100ma, or they aren’t isolated like they say they are. We recommend having 200ma or more available for this pedal.

What’s this thing rattling inside my pedal?

If you open it up, you’d probably discover the aforementioned 9VDC battery clip. You’ll also discover the special message we wrote inside your pedal on the back plate.

Why is this pedal not “trails” bypass?

If we’re going to make effects pedals that go a bit crazy and off the rails for our users, as per our tradition, then we need to put something in that really shuts the whole thing down.

If you turn both the size and regeneration controls to right around 3:00, you’ll go from HUGE reverb to self oscillation, a kind of “whum-whum-whum” engine turning thing that we think is really special and beautiful. Past there, the thing starts to blow up on itself. And the only way to really bypass/kill either of those effects is with true bypass, where the audio path gets completely removed from that circuit.

If we did trails bypass, which simply kills the “input” to the wet side of the circuit when bypassed, you’d turn the pedal on, crank the knobs, the sound would run away…and then you’d be helpless to turn it off with the footswitch. Then the FAQ/story would be “it’s broken – the bypass doesn’t work” or “this thing is screwy – once the knobs get past a certain point, you can’t turn it off” or ”even when this thing is off, it will screw up if the knobs are too high.” Because when those controls get cranked, it will take any amount of ambient noise in the audio path and start recycling it. And if there’s trails bypass, the wet side will leak that into the output path.

My feelings on true bypass mirror my feelings on democracy and capitalism. They are all  imperfect, and the best thing we’ve got. Completely separating your audio path from the effect, with the nominal amount of capacitance from whatever wire, board trace, and switch itself, is the best way for something to truly be “off”. You can make the pedal go crazy, then completely kill the effect. On lower settings, I’m sure trails would be nice….but really, you can also just let the effect fade and then turn it off. You’ll figure it out.

This pedal is kind of noisy in my rig.

Noise is a curious thing. I can breadboard things to the ends of the earth and it seems dead quiet. We can test it on all the amps we have here. We get prototypes done and have to tweak some values because of the differences in shielding and parts placement on a PCB. Then we get a final version. We run it into every amp we have. Then we release it, somebody calls and tells me it is hissing through their amp, and lo and behold, it is – even with everything else taken out of the chain, good cables, and it running on a battery. I then find another amp just like what the user has, try our pedal there – and it IS noisy. Hmmm. Then I find another like that, and it’s quiet.

It’s enough to make you want to pull your hair out and/or light yourself on fire. In my case, I’m starting to run out of what I have, and I’d rather live and not pay a bunch of medical bills related to self-pyromania, so I have to cope in other ways. Like most men of my age, I just grit my teeth, bury my emotions, and probably eat or drink more than I should and give myself an ulcer. Anyone else?

We do RFI/EMI noise reduction practices. The PT2399 and Belton Bricks are kinda noisy. So is my record player and my 70s hi-fi. But I think they all can sound terrific. At some point, some things are still beyond my control. The amps people play, the wiring in their homes, their proximity to a weird dimmer, their cables, the authentic single coils in their guitars…there’s only so much you can do. We make something that we think sounds really beautiful, and fun, and imperfect, and hopefully inspiring and great, we hustle to make it a good pedalboard citizen, and then, we live with it. We’ve done everything we can think of to reduce noise. We do a lot more than many, if not most, “booteek” pedals that I’ve seen, and I’m always game to do more. But if endlessly chasing that dragon means we never get around to releasing something that we’re excited about, that’s just no fun for anyone.

I also wonder – if there was a stacked single coil pickup or a noise gate that really just eliminated noise – could it really be doing nothing *but* that? Something else HAD to have been changed. Is that change positive? Does that single coil hum that comes from my Fralins when I’m running into a drive somehow make me feel like everything is a bit more…ALIVE? Am I the only one who feels that? I also just had a very expensive tube amp steadily increase hum as the rehearsal continued to where it eventually overpowered whatever I was playing into it and just loudly broadcast a sound not unlike holding your finger to the tip of a cable and diming a full stack. I wanted to fill it with dog poop and light it on fire and leave it on the manufacturer’s doorstep. On the subject of noise, does this make me a hypocrite, a flip-flopper, or just a guy like most of us who has drawn a line in the sand that works for them?

So while the noise is not our objective, it can be part of what we do, and at some point we live with it. If it sounds cool, if it makes me feel good when I hear it and play through it, and I think enough people will find it fun enough that me and the guys can afford to keep doing what we enjoy, that works for me. For some people, it might not. I hope they find what works for them. It’s music and pedals. Life’s too short not to enjoy the ones you really like. It makes me really happy that you like our Meteore…AND I’m going to be thinking about noise. Because it vexes me. Like Maximus does to Commodus in “Gladiator”, I’m very, very vexed.